salt beef edit in bun

Salt beef in buns, one for the weekend

Salt beef

Salt beef is a deli classic and if you think ‘yeah I know all about it’ as I’ve bought some from the supermarket, then stop, think again. The wafer thin, pathetic slices are not what salt beef is about; big thick chunks is what you deserve. Don’t let anyone tell you different.  Always cook twice what you think you need, as it’s impossible to stop eating the stuff. This is a fail safe way to the perfect deli bun.

The actual origins of Salt beef can be argued depending if Irish, Jewish or 19th Century Brit in a naval fleet looking to conquer  the Americas.

Often  called Corned beef; to confuse the matter, what we called Salt beef the Yanks call Corned beef, where we would see corned beef as a product made from salt beef… this could get boring.

The ‘corned’ part is what large lumps of salt were called as they looked like corn kernels, hence the name corned beef across the pond. To us, it’s salt beef as it’s cured or pickled in a brine solution using salt or salt petre which ensures the brisket keeps it bright pink colour.


I sometimes brine / pickle my own salt beef and if making pastrami I always do this myself. It’s a hassle and you need a huge container to put it in and will take around ten days for roughly 2 kilos of brisket, you can find various recipes online.

I buy my re-pickled brisket from Turner and George Butchers   in Islington, North London. It is worth buying as much as you can cook, no less than 1.5Kg as will shrink as you cook it. It also freezes well if vac packed. A good butcher should be able to source this for you.

 How to cook

1) Get the biggest heavy based bottom pot you can find and fill with cold water and put in your brisket. If this does not fit, you can roll it or use two pots. Put in all the chopped veg, bay, chilli and pepper.


2)Bring this to the boil then skim off all the scum that comes to the surface over the next fifteen minutes or so.

3) You want to try and keep the beef submerged to ensure equal cooking, it will want to float up, so upturn a small plate and use this as a trivet under the lid. If no lid then a small sauce pan with water in, make sure doesn’t overflow into the main pot as this will cool the water!

4) Cooking time will vary slightly depending on how you like your salt beef. For me it’s all about soft beef that falls apart and is tender. Cook 2kilos for around 3.5 hrs more than 2kilos up to around 4 hours. Feel free to turn the brisket in the pot.

5) When it’s very soft take it from the water and let it rest for fifteen minutes, it will stay roasting hot for a long time. If for some daft reason you haven’t eaten it all, it will keep for around 4 days in the fridge. Slice off and re heat in very shallow frying pan with a few tablespoons of water in, lid on so it steams back to life.


Note when cutting your salt beef, always cut across the grain of the meat this will give it an extra edge of tenderness. The grain of the brisket moves through the meat so keep and eye on this and move the meat round so always cutting across.

Serve with melted cheese, fresh onion, pepper in a bun or sour dough / rye bread is always a winner. Melted cheese does finish this off!


salt beef edit in bun

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Ingredients €0.00 (1 Servings)

  • Pickled / Cured brisket pickle your own or buy ready to cook 2 kgs
  • Cheese, any you like melted units
  • Pepper corns keep whole 1 tsp
  • All spice berries keep whole 1 tsp
  • Whole head of garlic just smash and chuck in 1 unit
  • Bay leaf torn or ripped 3 units
  • Leek roughly chopped 1 unit
  • Hot dried chilli depend how hot they are! 2 units
  • Carrot roughly chopped 2 units

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  1. Maureen Reply

    Makes me very hungry reading this. Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Jess Tumber Reply

    This looks delicious! I will go and order some pre-brined beef from these guys and see what I can make myself. With a bit of confidence I will make my own brine solution..

    • One Hungry Man Reply

      It’s great fun to brine your own meat, just find somewhere large and cool enough to keep it stored!
      Left over Salt beef is great in mac ‘n’ cheese too! nom nom!